A network problem took down Microsoft’s hosted version of Exchange for nine hours on Tuesday.
The number of affected users hasn’t been disclosed, but social media did well in policing the outage, with many customers making their frustrations vocal. The outage is a black-eye for Microsoft’s self-hosted flavor of both Exchange and its larger Office 365 hosted apps business suite.
The outage hit Microsoft’s self-hosted service, which competes with Google’s apps suite. The company has many service provider partners offering hosted Exchange, but they were not affected.
Many Exchange users have been looking to move away from self-hosted on-premises Exchange as the comfort for outsourcing grows. However, outages such as this one are fatal in convincing businesses to make the switch.
While no outages are acceptable, this one hit at the worst possible time: during U.S. work hours on Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m. Eastern and finally resolving around 6 p.m. “Engineers have identified an issue in which a portion of capacity that facilitates connectivity to Exchange Online services has entered into a degraded state,” according to the admin status page. A community message board shows the extent of customer frustrations.
Perhaps the biggest black-eye came from a perceived lack of communication on the part of Microsoft. Transparency and frequent updates are necessary when dealing with an outage to minimize customer anger – a lesson many service providers have learned over the years.
Exchange online is sold both as a standalone and as part of hosted business apps suite Office 365. Formerly named Outlook.com, this isn't the first outage for the hosted email service.
A network device was also identified as the culprit in an Azure outage in 2012.